Sri Lanka heritage hotel to lure ship passengers again

Dec 02, 2010 (LBO) – Big Sri Lankan operators and international chains have responded to a call to restore the original charms of a colonial-era hotel overlooking Colombo port once popular with visitors who came by ship, an official said. “We want to bring it back to its original form,” said Gamini Wickemasinghe, chairman of state-owned Bank of Ceylon which is seeking an international hotel chain to manage its subsidiary, Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH).

The hotel is a landmark built during British times just outside Colombo harbour and served passengers who came by sea before commercial air travel was available.

The original building was built in 1837 and is “within sight and sound of Colombo Harbour”, according to the GOH website.

“The GOH was most popular not only with ships’ passengers but also with the Colombo City residents, as the hotel had acquired a reputation for ballroom dancing . . .,” it said.

Wickremasinghe said that in future with more cruise ships calling at the Colombo port following the end of the island’s war the hotel will cater to cruise passengers as well.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a tourism boom with a sharp upturn in visitors following the end of its 30-year ethnic war in May 2009.

The Ban